SCRA ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING HELD ON 29th MARCH 2022 AT SAFARI BEACH HOTEL
NECC meeting notes Tuesday 16th November 2021
After SCRA contacted the NECC (National Environmental Complaints Committee) about environmental issues in Diani and Tiwi, the NECC came to visit all sites in March 2021. In their report they issued 7 recommendations for Diani and 4 recommendations for Tiwi.
As we felt that the KCG (Kwale County Government) had not done enough to act on these recommendations, we contacted the NECC again and with the backing of KARA (Kenya Alliance of Residents Association), we convinced them to do a follow-up visit.
We were invited to a meeting yesterday which was to start with a courtesy visit to the Governor at his offices in Kwale at 7.45 am. It turned out that neither the governor, nor the deputy governor had time to see us and we were received by the County Secretary, Mr. Martin Mwaro. The NECC team was led by their chairman and their secretary Dr. John Chumo. They brought reinforcement in the form of the CAS (Chief Administrative Secretary) in the ministry of Environment and Forestry, Hon. Mohammed Elmi. They expressed their displeasure that neither governor nor his deputy was able to meet us.
SCRA was represented by myself and Onesmus Macharia. Other attendees were Mr. Wafula of NEMA, the KCG CEC (County Executive Committee) for Environment, Mrs. Saumu, representatives from KPLC, Department of forestry, KCG lands office, NLC (National Lands Commission), WRA (Water Resource Management Authority), Mr. Mwandaro of the Diani Municipality Board and others.
The meeting started at 8.15am and the CAS Elmi reiterated their 11 recommendations. Some answers were given at that meeting which I will touch upon later. We then proceeded to a courtesy visit to the County Commissioner Mr. Oyagi at 9am. NECC had also invited 2 kaya elders to this meeting and they reported of the invasion of the kaya Tiwi by land grabbers and the NECC promised to address this issue with the help of the CC. Oyagi. We also mentioned illegal developments in Diani and CC Oyagi was interested to hear that a developer had defied a court stop order and continued building. He asked me to come and see him privately to discuss this issue.
We then returned to the office of the governor at 10am where we were also joined by the DCC (Deputy County Commissioner) and the OCPD (Officer Commanding Police Division) Matuga sub-county. Including all the other NECC committee members and their staff, we were about 25 people.
CAS Elmi chaired the meeting and we were given some answers concerning the NECC recommendations.
We then proceeded to site visits in Tiwi where the team looked at quarries opposite Amani Tiwi Hotel and 1 other site. They found some workers loading a lorry with freshly cut coral blocks and interviewed them about their jobs. It turned out that stone cutting now mostly happens at night and that those who don’t steal power from KPLC use diesel generators. The NECC team was suitably shocked by the environmental damage caused by the quarries and was surprised how close these quarries were to residential areas.
The next stop was the beach access road south of Southern Palms Hotel in Diani which has been blocked by a mosque. The CAS Elmi decided to pray at the mosque and had a meeting with the imam. The conclusion was that Golden Palms Hotel will be asked to set aside a piece of land where the mosque can be relocated.
The next stop was the mosque under construction between Diani Bazar and the Tyre Centre. CAS Elmi stated that there is no law stating that mosques or churches can’t be built in residential areas, but instructed Mwandaro to make sure that the morning calls to prayers should not disturb the neighbours. NEMA was tasked to monitor this.
We then proceeded to the Tradewinds Beach Access Road and the NECC expressed their disgust at the mushrooming of structures. Mwandaro tried to claim that most of these had been sanctioned and/or erected by KCG, but under pressure he had to admit that only the toilet block had been built by KCG. Several recommendations were made which I will resume later.
The last stop was a conclusive meeting at Piri Piries at 3pm where all participants were given the opportunity to express their opinions.
The following emerged from all those meetings and site visits regarding the 7 recommendations for Diani:
On the zoning plan for Diani Ukunda, CEC Saumu said that a contract to develop such a plan was given to Geodev Kenya Ltd and that the first stakeholder meeting would take place this Saturday in the Kinondo area. We were promised an invitation
No answer on the recommendation that WARMA should carry out pegging of the sea shore
CEC Saumu stated that there were budgetary and political obstacles to the removal of illegal structures on beaches and beach access roads. Mwandaro stated that Amigos was given a deadline of 6 months to close shop. Mwureni was not mentioned specifically. CAS Elmi directed that a multi-agency team will be formed to address all these issues. This team should include:
- KCG security agency
- Diani Municipality
- National Lands Commission
- Kwale lands office
- Public Health
- Ministry of Lands
- Physical planning
- Museums of Kenya
This team should meet latest by Wednesday next week, will be chaired by the county commissioner and will be tasked to plan the demolition of illegal structures on the beach (SCRA was asked to compile a list of such structures) and to plan a regulated development of beach access roads.
The recommendation that all developments along beach access roads meet the necessary hygiene standards (controlled by NEMA and Public Health) is covered in point 3
We were assured that the Diani Municipality Board is fully established and funded as has started working. Maureen will comment on this separately.
CEC Saumu claimed that KCG has started an awareness campaign on the value of beaches and sand dunes
No comment on the progress on the strengthening and enforcement of relevant regulations to protect beaches and shoreline habitat.
The 4 recommendations on Tiwi all covered the illegal stone quarries.
According to NEMA, none of the quarries in Tiwi are licensed, but they produce up to 10.000 stones a day, have 3.000 employees and provide 70% of the demand for cut coral blocks in Kwale and beyond. The only licensed quarries are in the Waa area.
The NECC, NEMA and KPLC were unanimous that the current quarries need to be closed down. They have another meeting with security agencies and local chiefs and administrators in Tiwi today to plan a way forward. Some ideas that were discussed were:
KCG to stop collecting CESS fees from the lorries transporting stones from Tiwi
Forming cooperatives to carry out licensed quarrying in areas demarcated by NEMA, away from residential areas
KCG to confiscate lorries that flout these regulations
KCG to present plans on the rehabilitation of disused quarries
Cunty Commissioner, lands office and KCG to try to identify the owners of the land where quarrying takes place
KPLC to continue disconnecting illegal power connections under the protection of the security agencies
I might have omitted some facts, but Maureen took notes during our final meeting and we will publish her notes ASAP. Another positive outcome of these meetings was that Mr. Macharia reconsidered his decision earlier in the year that he would offer his resignation from the SCRA committee as he was demoralised by the lack of action by the KCG. After today’s meetings he feels that SCRA is making massive progress in pushing our agenda and will remain on the committee.
SCRA achievements over the last 18 month
- SCRA stopped the construction of a block of flats. They were completely against zoning plan rules and other regulations. We had to join a court case against the developer and obtained a stop order. Case is still ongoing and we hope to achieve the demolition of the illegal construction. SCRA has also confirmed that in the absence of a new zoning plan, the current plan is still in effect despite it's expiry date.
- SCRA made the authorities including Museums of Kenya aware of mosque construction which would destroy an archaeological valuable area
- SCRA had several meetings with security agencies which resulted in the transfer of the OCS and the OCPD in Ukunda after which the frequent armed gate robberies stopped
- SCRA now has the ear of several Kwale and National authorities, especially NEMA who usually promptly react to issues raised by SCRA
- SCRA managed to organise a visit by the National Environmental Complaints Committee (NECC) who visited several sites in Diani and Tiwi and made strong recommendations on the encroachment on beaches and beach access roads as well as illegal stone mining in Tiwi. In conjunction with the Kenya Alliance of Resident’s Association (KARA) we are following this up directly with the NECC and Kwale County Government
- SCRA was instrumental in setting up speed limit signs along the Diani Beach Road
- SCRA has revamped their website: https://www.scra.co.ke/
- SCRA added Wambui Ngunya (lawyer) and George Jaramba (human rights) to our committee
- SCRA procured 2 decibel meters, one of which we donated to the Kwale County Government noise pollution agency. The calibration of these meters showed some weaknesses, but we can still use them to evaluate noise levels
Meeting notes and site visits, SCRA and Environmental Complaints Committee (ECC)
Saturday 27th February 2021
On Saturday 27th February SCRA met with the ECC to discuss our report on blocking and encroachment of Beach Access Roads and other illegal developments.
We started at 9am with a meeting with the team and explained our complaints. Apart from the 7 strong team from the ECC, there was a representative from the county commissioner, from Fisheries (why?) and from the Kwale planning office.
SCRA was represented by Onesmus Macharia, George Jaramba, Gerald Gambo and myself.
We then started the site visits at Mvureni at the Fishermen’s Restaurant and the team had a meeting with village elders and chiefs who complained that some wazungu had grabbed the land of their fish landing sites and that they had to build on the access road instead. It also transpired though that NEMA had already issued orders that the Fisherman’s restaurant and the buildings on the beach access road should be transformed into temporary structures and later removed. No timeline was given.
The next stop was the Mwaepe (KFI) beach access road. The ECC team was told that part of the access road had been grabbed and they promised to investigate. They also stated that the restaurant blocking the access on the beach side would have to be removed. Some fishermen and beach operators engaged the ECC team to explain their situation.
We then proceeded to the Bidi Badu Beach access. The ECC team was scandalised by all the informal buildings that have mushroomed on that stretch of beach and promised remedial action. There also they had a meeting with beach operators.
We then had a look at the monstrous construction on plot 800/801, but as this case is in court they didn’t want to commit. Both the gentleman from the county commissioner and the lady from the planning office were surprised that construction is still ongoing although they had told them to stop.
Next was a stop at the Kongo mosque where they inspected the Estuary Restaurant and had some words with the lady owner. They also talked to representatives of the mosque, but unfortunately not with people from the village.
We pointed out to them that a high wall had been erected on the Tiwi side of the mwachema river, which basically cuts off the kaya Tiwi and seem to earmarked for development. An informant mentioned that the name of Gideon Moi had come up in that regard.
A local chief told us that another beach access road at Southern Palms had been encroached upon. When we arrived there, some builders were just putting the finishing touches on a mosque blocking nearly the entire access road. Again, the ECC team heard that adjacent land had been grabbed and that they had no alternative but to build on the access road.
The next stop was the stone quarrying sites in Tiwi where SCRA showed the team around. They also engaged the workers in the quarries and had talks with an assistant chief of the area. The ECC team expressed their displeasure at the destruction of nature and the noise and dust pollution emanating from those sites. It also transpired that most of the quarrying is done on plots of absentee landlords.
We returned to Diani at about 5.30 pm (we all missed lunch) where I dropped off my 3 SCRA colleagues. The ECC team asked me to join them for dinner and we finished with a short debrief before the restaurant closed at 9pm.
ECC promised to write a report with their recommendations to be presented to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment within 2 weeks and that they would keep SCRA updated. They also insisted that SCRA should remain their eyes and ears on the ground. A suggestion was made that the ECC should cooperate with SCRA, NEMA, the planning office, Kwale County Government, the Water Resources Authority, KWS, WWF and the National Museums of Kenya. SCRA welcomed this proposal.
More updates when we receive the report.
Meeting notes SCRA-NEMA Tuesday 23rd February 2021
The meeting was scheduled for 3pm on Tuesday 23rd February at the Kwale Government offices in Mvindeni and started at around 3.05pm.
Jassa Juma, NEMA (taking minutes)
W opened the meeting explaining the presence of M as the opening of beach access roads falls under the tourism docket. W expressed his disappointment that Maureen and Macharia could not attend, especially as Maureen was the author of the report that was sent to the Cabinet Secretary. S explained that Maureen was on a benchmarking trip with the municipality board and that Macharia was on a field trip. M explained that KCG plans to gradually open all beach access roads, whereby the Maji and Bidi Badu (to be re-named into 2 Fishes) access roads are completed, Nakumat is awaiting a court order, as does Tradewinds (according to M this court order is imminent). As toilets are needed on public beaches, KCG has set aside space on the beach access roads to construct toilets. M also stated that those toilets would be fitted with biodigester pits to control liquid waste discharge. M also stated that EIAs have been undertaken regarding air pollution (smell) and an annual monitoring plan is in place.
W reiterated that toilets on public beaches are a necessity. KCG decided to install toilets and stalls along beach access roads and that this could be the solution to stalls erected directly on the beach.
W said the Leisure Lodge access road was blocked by LL with gates, toilets and a mosque and that they have been given a warning to re-open the access and remove buildings. S stated that SCRA agrees.
W said that the access between DBR and Waterlovers and the access at Neptune have been obstructed and/or narrowed and need to be reopened and restored to original width. S stated that SCRA agrees.
On Mwaepe access W stated that some land has been listed as grabbed and investigations are under way. W also stated that the restaurant blocking access is illegal and will be removed in due course. L stated that the area is unsafe and frequented by drug addicts, also the fishermen have no space for their boats. W said security is the job of county commissioner. S said that Hilary had agreed that some of the access road is on her land. L said that KFI is owned by Dr. Kumar. W said investigations are under way.
M: KCG is implementing projects by collecting opinions from wanainchi from ward level to sub-county, to county level and M stated that both wanainchi and SCRA will be heard. S stated that SCRA represents wanainchi as we represent all residents and not only wazungu. M: public participation forums revealed the need for toilets and changing rooms near beaches and a no-option should be avoided. M also stated that some erosion had taken place at Tradewinds access and land has to be recovered. L stated that cabro is expensive and other solutions to be considered and that cabro should not extend all the way to the beach to avoid litter and sand being washed into the sea.
On Mvureni access, W stated that both the cold room of fishermen and the restaurant are permanent structures and thus illegal and that the restaurant is wrongly located. W said that title investigations are under way, that the current structure have to revert to temporary structures and later be removed. No timeline was given. M also suggested that barriers can be put up to stop cars from driving and parking on the beach.
M stated that fish landing sites have been encroached upon by neighbours and need to be recovered. W said that they did a report on fish landing sites and agreed to a request by S to share this report with SCRA. W also said that the officer of fisheries is in charge of fish landing sites and that the national lands commission should be involved to repossess them.
On the restaurant at Congo mosque W stated that an investigation by the lands officer found that it is NOT located on riparian land, but confirmed that they have neither a NEMA nor a planning license. S pointed out that a stretch of 30 meters from a river bed is considered riparian land. W said that if the restaurant fails in obtaining licenses, it will have to be removed.
M said that it is necessary to develop a beach management plan and that the previous draft had been rejected by the county assembly. S insisted that this draft had not originated from SCRA, but was done by the hotel keepers association and that SCRA objected to several points therein. W suggested that even the national government should be involved in developing a beach management plan.
M stated that several big hotels and restaurants have encroached on the beach by erecting beach walls and seemed surprised when S stated that SCRA agrees.
W seemed upset by the statement in our report that there is no solid waste management by KCG on access roads. He also said that as Maureen is a board member of the municipality board and that it is the job of the board to support KCG in waste management. S explained that our report was written before the municipality board was established and before Maureen became a member thereof. W said that NEMA has licensed rubbish collectors who have to keep tracking documents on where they collect waste and where they dump it. W agreed to share a list of licensed waste collectors with SCRA to share with our members
S mentioned the existing zoning plan for Diani/Ukunda, but both M and W insisted that this plan had expired and a new plan is needed. SCRA offered their help in formulating a new plan.
At this point M excused himself to attend another meeting.
W then returned to the issue of informal structures on beaches and requested SCRA to use the term informal instead of illegal. He also stated that a plan has to be formulated to remove them. W also said that the Water Resources Authorities are in charge of riparian land and gave us contacts:
Regional director coast: Ahmed: 0737 920960, 0721 958098
Pollution in-charge: Dickens Riungu: 0781 022234, 0725 023099
On the quarries in Tiwi, W stated that landless people have grabbed land and are quarrying. He also blamed KPLC for providing them electricity, but stated that efforts are under way to close some of them. S pointed out that the quarrying is done at an industrial level and that more affluent people than landless squatters are behind this. S also pointed out that the quarries steal electricity from KPLC with illegal connections and that KPLC tried to stop this, but failed. S pointed out the security risks of the quarries and that they operate 24/7 despite the existing curfew. W pointed out that the county commissioner is in charge of security, but promised to engage him on this matter. W also said that they issue a notice of closure to the quarry in front of Amani, but that 1 or 2 quarries had been licensed.
Returning to sea walls, W stated that the erosive activity of oceans is increasing and that a shoreline management strategy has to be developed. He said environmentally friendly solutions have to be sought. L gave some examples of those. W proposes a study on shoreline erosion on plots with and without sea walls, similar to the Malindi estuary management plan. L will try to get hold of this one. L mentioned that sea walls threaten turtle nesting grounds. SCRA offered to participate in developing a Diani shoreline management plan.
On the development on plot 800/801, W refused to comment as the case is in court and NEMA is 1 of the respondents. S mentioned that SCRA had seen letters from NEMA and the Kwale department for environment and natural resources stating that at least part of the development should be stopped. No further comments on this issued waiting for courts to decide.
This concluded the points raised in our report to the Cabinet Secretary.
W agreed to listen to 2 more requests for advice from SCRA. S pointed out that there is currently noise pollution going on at Deemaz near Tandoori and that when curfew is lifted, noise pollution will become an issue again. W sated that noise pollution is devolved and that the KCG Director of Environment is in charge. W gave us his contact:
Dr. Indo Joseph, 0723 691406
W also said that this department is not very well funded. S offered that SCRA can make the decibel meter they purchased available to this department if W will help to get it calibrated and registered. SCRA is also willing to purchase an additional decibel meter if the same procedure is followed. W promised to look into this.
S mentioned the current jet ski menace by unlicensed operators. W promised to engage the Kenya Marine authority on this issue.
The meeting ended amicably at 5.30 pm and we look forward to collaborate with NEMA.